Meet The Instructors

Melissa Pope

Melissa first became aware of Pilates at the Spoleto Festival in the late 1980s. She was quite impressed with the ability and bodies of the dancers in a particular dance company, and went on to read in all their biographies that they practiced Pilates. Melissa, a Charlotte native, became fully certified to teach mat and equipment classes in 1994; she opened Alternative Fitness in 1995. She rounds out the optimal instructor’s repertoire with a bachelor’s degree in dance education and psychology, along with experience teaching anatomy/kinesiology at UNC-Charlotte, and dance at Queens College, UNCC and Winthrop College. A former dancer with a back injury, Melissa found Pilates provided the relief and rehabilitation she needed when nothing else short of surgery worked. Her mission became to pass on the healing benefits to others. Thus, Pope became fully certified, with the good fortune to study with Pilates “pioneers”—Carola Trier, Ron Fletcher and Romana Kryzanowska—all of whom studied directly and intensely with Joseph Pilates himself. Backed by a highly touted, extensive background and longevity on the local Pilates scene since the mid-90s, Melissa has earned a reputation for optimizing her clients options to deliver the most beneficial health and fitness results. What Melissa enjoys most about Pilates is the variety it offers—its universal appeal to so many different types of clients, and how it can be gentle and rehabilitative, or  intense body conditioning.

Mary “Ryan” Tiernan RYT

Ryan began her Pilates work in 1997 due to a knee injury. A former dancer since age 3, she went on to graduate from Radford University with a BFA in Dance. Ryan continued to practice Pilates after graduating, and decided to pursue a certification in Pilates mat work and apparatus in September 2001 from the Physical Mind Institute, NY. Her training was completed at the Orchid Pagoda Pilates studio in Fairfax, VA and the Body College in Washington, DC. During this time, Ryan also explored several different styles or yoga and body work before deciding to pursue a Classical Hatha yoga certification through the Yoga Alliance with Pat Joslyn in Charlotte, NC in 2007. Ryan says her reward in teaching Pilates and yoga is she gets to offer a type of movement experience she truly believes is beneficial for the mind and body. She has seen amazing results in the way people have responded to the work, and truly enjoys opening the door to those who seek a safe and lifestyle-changing way to exercise and to develop an internal awareness that reflects to the outside. Outside of the Pilates studio, Ryan has become passionate about volunteering and helping children in the Charlotte area. She continues to take care of animals, write, create art, and live in the moment.

Vicki Rust

Vicki has been a Pilates instructor for over ten years and brings her considerable fitness and dance background to her Pilates classes. Vicki began her fitness career as an instructor in aerobics and calisthenics. A former dancer with a background in ballet and jazz, she turned to Pilates in 1999. Vicki is a nationally certified Stott Pilates instructor, and studied with and holds certification from the Body Awareness Studio in Atlanta, Georgia whose coursework combines traditional Pilates exercises with the latest research in sports medicine and biomechanics. One of Joseph Pilates’ goals was to help your body last a lifetime – and it’s one that Vicki shares as well. She enjoys seeing her students develop their strength, and recover from conditions and injuries. Vicki provides variety in her classes and private sessions, tailoring the program to students’ needs and desires. Her classes are focused on precision and challenging students to achieve their goals, incorporating modifications as appropriate. When Vicki isn’t teaching, she enjoys mountain bike riding with her husband, visiting her three grown children and enjoying the company of her two dogs and cat.

Amy Esterhay

Amy has been teaching and training in the Charlotte,NC area for 30 years. Her experience includes an independent corporate fitness business, activities director at Olde Providence Racquet Club, group fitness director at Carmel Fitness Center and Tower Club, Charlotte. Amy hosted a nationally syndicated fitness show, “HOMESTRETCH”, for 10 years as well as producing 20 fitness videos and an instructional video for a new product called “PRO BAR”. Now she is primarily personal training and teaching classes, focusing on Pilates and Pilates principles for women’s strength training. Amy’s certifications and training includes ACE personal trainer, CPR and First Aid, Mecklenburg County Fitness Instructor Leadership Program, Master Trainer in cycling , AFAA kickboxing, and Reebok Flexible Strength and Power Yoga. Her Pilates training began with Glenn Studio training followed by the Powerhouse Institute mat and reformer training . Amy was also trained in reformer by Melissa Pope at Alternative Fitness, Charlotte, NC Amy’s special interests are tennis and gardening. Philosophy: Staying healthy, functionally fit and active as we age are of utmost importance. The discipline of Pilates is an avenue to achieve these goals. A positive attitude and laughter are also keys to longevity!

Amy Estridge

Amy’s has enjoyed and studied dance from her teen years through her college years where she was lead choreographer for Appalachian University Dance team. After college, her interest in dance and movement therapy encouraged her to teach fitness as an aerobic, step aerobics and body conditioning instructor. Of her 30 years in the fitness industry, the last 15 years she has devoted to the study of the Pilates method of exercise.   She has received a double mat certification through Physical Mind Institute and Balanced Body University. Her extensive study with master trainer Jennifer Gianni has earned her full BBU certification on all the apparatus in the Pilates repertoire as well as a comprehensive training and certification in the Smart Spine technique. Most recently, Amy has been fortunate to obtain certification in the Core Intelligence coursework under the tutelage of master trainer and world renowned Marie Jose Blom. After completing this coursework, Amy was invited to study under Marie Jose for a year long “Passing the Torch” program of which she completed in 2013. This program was designed for experienced pilates instructors who long for a deepening of their work to study extensively through a mentorship program with a master teacher.   Additionally, Amy takes a holistic approach to her teaching and complements it with a Nutrition and Wellness Certification acquired through AFPA. When Amy is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband of 28 years and her two grown children. She enjoys gardening, painting and Bible Study.